WP leaders told Raeesah Khan to 'continue with the narrative' after she lied in Parliament: Committee of Privileges report
SINGAPORE: Leaders of the Workers’ Party (WP) had told former Sengkang GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan to “continue with the narrative” and “directed her not to respond to the police” after she lied in Parliament, according to a summary of key points of her evidence to the Committee of Privileges.
Ms Khan was referred to the Committee of Privileges on Nov 1 after she admitted to lying in Parliament about a sexual assault case, which she claimed had been mishandled by the police. She first mentioned the case on Aug 3 during the WP’s motion on empowering women.
Ms Khan resigned as an MP on Nov 30, following her admission that she had lied in Parliament.
After evidence was heard over Thursday (Dec 2) and Friday, the Committee of Privileges presented a special report to Parliament on Friday, including a summary of key points from the evidence.
Besides Ms Khan, three other WP members gave evidence: Ms Loh Pei Ying, former secretarial assistant to Ms Khan and secretarial assistant to WP chief Pritam Singh from March 2013 to January 2016; Mr Lim Hang Ling, former legislative assistant to Ms Khan; and Mr Yudhishthra Nathan, a volunteer.
"CONTINUE WITH THE NARRATIVE"
The special report, released to the media at about 11.20pm on Friday, included a summary of the key points of Ms Khan's evidence.
According to the summary, Ms Khan said she spoke with Mr Singh on Aug 7 and informed him that her statement on Aug 3 was untrue.
On Aug 8, she met Mr Singh, WP chair Sylvia Lim and WP vice-chair Faisal Manap.
“At the meeting, Ms Khan told them that she had lied in Parliament on Aug 3, and that she had no way of substantiating the statements she had made,” the summary said.
"As they (Mr Pritam Singh, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap) were more seasoned politicians, Ms Khan confessed to them that she had lied, and sought their guidance.
"They (Mr Pritam Singh, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap) told her that the best thing for her to do would be to continue with the narrative that she had already given in Parliament on Aug 3 (ie keep to the lie).
"If Ms Khan and the WP could get away with it, there was no need to clarify the lie. If the matter was brought up again, there would also be no need for her to clarify and there was no need for the truth to be told."
In a text message to Ms Loh and Mr Nathan on Aug 8, Ms Khan wrote: “Hey guys, I just met Pritam, Sylvia and Faisal. And we spoke about the Muslim issue and the police accusation. I told them what I told you guys, and they’ve agreed that the best thing to do is to take the information to the grave. They also suggested that I write a statement to send out this evening.”
The message referred to two issues: About certain Muslim issues affecting women, and her untrue anecdote in Parliament and the allegation against the police.
"The reference to a 'statement' in the last line of the message refers to the Muslim issues," said the summary.
"The reference to taking the 'information to the grave' was that Ms Khan should continue to lie about the sexual assault case and allegation against the police."
Mr Singh visited Ms Khan at her home on Oct 3 and “told her that if she kept to her existing narrative on the untruths which she had said on Aug 3, there would be no judgment by him”.
“Ms Khan understood, from what Mr Pritam Singh said, that Mr Pritam Singh was advising her to continue to lie, should the matter come up the next day (Oct 4) during the Parliamentary session,” the summary said.
Mr Singh did not ask Ms Khan to clarify and state the truth in Parliament, and no one in the WP told her she should do so, the summary added. "To the contrary, Ms Khan was advised that she can continue to lie."
Ms Khan was questioned in Parliament on Oct 4 by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam about it, and she maintained the lie.
She then met with Mr Singh and Ms Lim on Oct 4. They discussed the next steps, including about a possible Committee of Privileges that might be set up to look at Ms Khan’s conduct.
“Neither Mr Pritam Singh nor Ms Sylvia Lim asked Ms Khan why she had lied again earlier, in answering questions asked by the Minister for Home Affairs. Nor did they suggest that Ms Khan clarify the truth in Parliament.”
DIRECTED HER "NOT TO RESPOND TO THE POLICE"
Ms Khan also sought advice from Mr Singh and Ms Lim when she received an email from police on Oct 7, inviting her to assist them in investigating the matters she had raised.
“They directed her not to respond to the police and to ignore the requests, as the police could not compel Ms Khan to speak with the police,” the summary said.
On Oct 12, she was called to a meeting by Mr Singh, during which she met with him and Ms Lim. The WP leaders were of the view that the matter would not be dropped and was "not going to go away".
“The three of them discussed together, and decided that Ms Khan should come clean and tell the truth. At this meeting, Ms Khan asked, if disciplinary action will be taken against her and the answer given to her was no.”
She then told Parliament on Nov 1 that she had lied during the Aug 3 and Oct 4 sittings.
Mr Singh also met Ms Loh and Mr Nathan on Oct 12 evening. During the meeting, he told them that he "will not judge Ms Khan", according to the summary. He explained that he had met Ms Khan on Oct 3, before the Oct 4 parliamentary sitting.
"In saying this, on Oct 3, Mr Pritam Singh had left the choice to Ms Khan, as to whether she should tell the truth about her Aug 3 statement, if she was asked about it in Parliament on Oct 4," said the summary.
"Ms Loh was disappointed that Mr Pritam Singh had said this to Ms Khan."
"NO ORDER TO CLARIFY THE FACTS"
When asked by the Committee of Privileges, Ms Khan said that if the WP leadership “had told her to come clean to Parliament in October 2021, or to assist the police in their enquiries and tell them the truth, she would have done so”.
“She had done neither because they had told Ms Khan that there would be no judgment if she did not clarify the truth in Parliament,” the summary said.
“She took that to mean that she should continue to lie. She had also been told not to respond to the police. She had also been told in early August, by Mr Pritam Singh, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap that she should keep to the lie, and there was no need for her to tell the truth.”
Ms Khan added that “no senior WP leader or activist had told her to come clean to Parliament on Oct 4”.
During a press conference held by the Workers’ Party on Dec 2, Mr Singh said there “had been an order to Ms Khan to clarify the truth in Parliament in October, but she acted contrary to that”, said the summary.
When asked about this, Ms Khan disagreed and said “there was no order for her to clarify the facts in October”.
"No one from WP advised her to tell the truth," the summary said.
"On the contrary, she had been advised by Mr Pritam Singh, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap, on Aug 8, to continue her false narrative.
"And (she) had been told on Oct 3 (by Mr Pritam Singh) that there would be no judgment if she continued with her lie."
Mr Singh also said during the press conference that the disciplinary panel had put to Ms Khan that if she did not resign on her own accord, she would be expelled from WP, according to the summary.
Ms Khan countered this, saying that this “was not said to her”.
“When she met the (disciplinary panel) on Nov 29, it was suggested to her that she should resign, as it was for her well-being and because she had lost the support of her Sengkang GRC MPs," said the summary.
Ms Loh said Ms Khan was "not the sole actor" in how things transpired.
"When Ms Khan felt the need to come clean, she had informed the WP leadership (Mr Pritam Singh, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap) of the matter. They knew. Thus, it was not fair to Ms Khan, that in public, all the blame is put on her by the WP," said the summary.
Ms Loh also told the committee that "several parts of the statement" made by Mr Singh to the media on Dec "were not true".
The party released a statement on Nov 1, attributed to Mr Singh, that Ms Khan had shared with him that she "wanted to set the record straight in Parliament", and that "this was the correct thing to do".
Ms Loh said she was "not fully happy" with WP's statement on Nov 1 because it did not reveal Mr Singh's knowledge of the matter, said the summary.
"Ms Loh felt that the involvement of Mr Pritam Singh, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap had been intentionally omitted. The omission was quite stark," the summary added.
Ms Khan, Ms Loh and Mr Nathan told the committee they were "shocked" and "surprised" to learn that the party had formed a disciplinary panel on Nov 2 to look into Ms Khan's lies in Parliament.
Ms Khan came before the panel on Nov 8 to explain why she had lied repeatedly to Parliament. She also requested to meet the panel again on Nov 29 to talk about her performance as an MP.
“At that meeting, it was suggested to her by Mr Pritam Singh and Ms Sylvia Lim that she should resign as a WP member. It was suggested to her that this was for her well-being and because she no longer had the support of fellow Sengkang GRC MPs,” the summary said.
Ms Khan then decided to resign from the party “as she acknowledged that she had made a mistake”.
Ms Loh and Mr Nathan told the Committee of Privileges that she thought the composition of the WP disciplinary panel was "self-serving".
The former secretarial assistant added that Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Mr Faisal Manap were the "very people who had known that what Ms Khan had said was untrue, and they were the only members of the (disciplinary panel)", said the summary.
She felt that the correct thing to do was to disclose in the WP statement that the panel had "intimate knowledge of the falsehood from an early stage".
CNA has sought comment from the Workers' Party on the Committee of Privileges' report.
Parliament did not respond to questions from CNA on whether Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Mr Faisal would be called before the committee.
Watch Raeesah Khan's oral evidence to the Committee of Privileges on Dec 2: